Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Our Children Deserve Raw Meat

If you stick with me long enough, you will see that this is a story about providing the best version of school we can create for our children.  It is also the story of finding the best dog food.  And it is the story of refusing to change for no good reason.

Almost one year ago we adopted our rescue dog, Pixie, a small, adult shih-tzu mix.
She was our first dog, and there were so many things we didn't know. 

Especially about dog food.  Kibble, to me, seemed like the way to go.  It was relatively cheap, easy to buy, easy to measure out, and easy to clean up.  (Just like our current version of education--scoop it out, dump it in a bowl, expect it to be good enough).  But our little Pixie wouldn't eat it.  She snubbed it repeatedly, eating only a few bits and only out of our hands.  Her foster family who had nursed her back to life had given her only wet food--the gross stuff out of the can that resembles and smells like vomit.   No way--that wasn't going to happen in my kitchen.

So we began to pretty up the kibble by pouring a warm broth over it.  (In education, the broth could be any number of "reforms" we have put in place to make things "better").  The broth had glucosamine and condroitin in it, so I told myself there was medical value since the vet had warned us about Pixie's loose knee cap.  But it was really just a way to make the kibble more appealing.  Pixie outsmarted us.  She lapped up the broth and left the kibble.  I tried at least four kinds of kibble and as many specialty dog food stores in our area.  Each time I tried a new store, I got the same answer from a knowing employee--"Have you tried raw food?"

What?  I'm pretty much a vegetarian and never cook red meat, so no, I hadn't tried raw food.

Tired of throwing away sloppy kibble (wasn't it supposed to be so neat?), I relented and gave her canned food but insisted that the unused portion in the can be stored in our basement refrigerator.  Thankfully, Pixie wasn't all that interested in the canned food anymore.  She preferred to stalk the perimeter of our kitchen table and beg.  (The educational equivalent of canned food?  One-off projects, a day of fun after the test...).

Next I moved on to dehydrated raw food--finally convinced by the many, many dog boutique clerks that kibble and wet food were at the bottom of the dog food chain but unconvinced that I could handle keeping raw dog food in my freezer.  For a while, Pixie loved the warm, wet mixture.  But after a few months she snubbed that as well.  (Here's where some of us find ourselves now in the growth of schools--lots of talk about 21st century skills, STEM, PBL--so close, but not there yet).

I recently stopped making up reasons why I shouldn't and bought my first package of raw frozen food for our dog.  I knew before Pixie had demolished the starter pack that I was finally doing what was best for her.   It has been nagging at me for almost a year.  Once I learned, many months ago, that the dog food hierarchy (nutrient-wise) looks like this

1. Raw food
2. Dehydrated raw food
3. Wet canned food
4. Dry kibble

I should have purchased the raw food right away.  But I didn't.  I KNEW it was the best thing to do for our dog, but I was stubborn. I didn't want the expense, the smell, the extra precautions with cleaning anything the raw food may touch... I just didn't want to try it.  And  just like anyone in the field of education KNOWS that school should be a joyful experience for kids--one they want to tear into like Pixie wants to tear into her raw delicacy.  School should be the most nutrient-rich environment for our kids--a glorious combination of play, passionate pursuit, collaborative opportunities, discovery, and even some disaster.

So let's give the kids raw meat, sort of.

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